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Howard Kern
CEO Emeritus
Sentara Health

Howard Kern is an accomplished and innovative healthcare executive. He is the retired President & CEO of Sentara Health, a 134-year-old, not-for-profit integrated health care delivery system headquartered in Virginia with revenues of
$13 billion. The health system employs over 33,000 team members, including 1,400 physicians, operates 12 hospitals, and serves 1.3 million health plan members in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida through Sentara Health Plans. Sentara is recognized nationally for clinical quality and safety and is strategically focused on innovation and creating an extraordinary health care experience for its patients and members. In his current capacity, Kern serves as an advisor to the CEO and Board of Directors and works on selected strategic projects and programs.


During Kern’s CEO tenure, Sentara was twice named to IBM Watson Health’s “Top 15 Health Systems”. Sentara was ranked by Forbes as one of “America’s Best Employers”, recognized as a “Best Employer for Women” and included on its list of “Best Employers for New Graduates”. Sentara hospitals have placed in U.S. News & World Report’s “Top Hospitals” rankings for 18 years. Sentara has continually ranked as one of the most integrated health care networks in the United States by Modern Healthcare magazine and is the only health care system in the nation continuously named to the top 10 since the survey began.

Mr. Kern’s executive experience includes 43 years in hospital/healthcare management, managed health insurance, ambulatory services, and healthcare finance. He received a Masters in Health Administration from the Medical College
of Virginia.  He completed the CEO Program for Health Care Leadership at the Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare
Executives. He received the “Most Transformative CEO” award from the CEO Forum and was again recognized as one of their “Top 10 CEOs Transforming Healthcare in America”. He has been recognized repeatedly by Modern Healthcare and Virginia Business in their “Most Influential People” lists. He was named to the Hampton Roads Business Hall of Fame in October, 2021 by Junior Achievement of Greater Hampton Roads, Inc., received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Service Award from Volunteer Hampton Roads in April, 2022 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Virginia Chamber in June, 2022. The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association recognized Kern with their 2023 Distinguished Service Award.


As an experienced board member, Kern has served on boards and advised many private equity backed, start-up companies including VISICU (sold to Phillips Medical), Human Performance Improvement (sold to Press Ganey), MDLive (sold to Cigna), MedStreaming (sold to Cerner) and Truveta. He served on the Board of Vizent Inc., a GPO and data analytics company. He has also advised private equity firms including Peloton Equity, Heritage Capital, and Health Velocity Capital. Kern serves on the board of numerous non-profit organizations including the American Hospital
Association Health Systems Council, Becker’s Healthcare Advisory Board, Scottsdale Institute, Blueprint Virginia 2030 Steering Committee, Elevate Early Education (E3), Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Hampton Roads Alliance,
Virginia Catalyst, Virginia Business Council, Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Foundation, and Virginia Wesleyan University. He served as a member of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and was selected as Chairman in 2012-13. Kern was appointed in 2019 to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue by then Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam and was reappointed to the Council in 2022 by Governor Glenn Youngkin.


Kern has recently accepted board, advisory and consulting affiliations with a number of institutions including British Columbia Investment Management Corp, Abundant Venture Partners, Graphite Health, Press Ganey, Zocdoc, and Libertas. He accepted an appointment to the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University, Department of Health Administration, serving as Executive In Residence. Kern was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and appointed Affiliate Professor of Executive Practice in the School of Public Health by Old Dominion University. He is
also an Executive in Residence for the Scottsdale Institute.

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